Thursday, March 31, 2022

Mussell offers advice re. war in Ukraine

 Agriculture economist Al Mussell said there’s not much, but some things, Canadian agriculture can do in response to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the Ukraine.

In a report for the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, he said:

Canada should develop a strategy to increase self-reliance for nitrogen fertilizers and continue to develop domestic sources of phosphate while advancing phosphate recovery from wastewater. The nitrogen fertilizer emission reduction target should focus on improving efficiency and addressing import dependency. 

A co-ordinated multinational effort will be needed to provide ongoing relief of wheat and other feedstuff supplies to countries most sensitive to the loss of Ukraine as a supplier. 

Canada needs to improve rail and port infrastructure and supply chain resiliency to be a more efficient and reliable supplier of food, feed, and fertilizer. 

Livestock producers in Europe who rely on feed grains imported from Ukraine are at risk, which may create opportunities for Canada. However, segments of livestock production in Canada are under significant economic stress today. Strategies should be put in place to support these industries during a possible transition. 

Canada must work with countries where food represents a relatively large share of household incomes to reduce the fallout of the Ukrainian invasion. 

He said Canada hasn't got many reserves of land to ramp up production and inventories of grains that could provide immediate relief to farmers and people needing food because of the war.

The Ukraine is a significant exporter of sunflowers, wheat, corn and barley. 

Russia is a significant supplier of nitrogen fertilizers, including to Eastern Canada which is heavily reliant on its supplies. Farmers and farm supply companies are asking the federal government to temporarily waive the 35 per cent tariff imposed to punish Russia for its invasion.

Maple syrup thief fined $9.1 million

Richard Vallières has been fined $9.1 million by the Supreme Court of Canada for stealing maple syrup from the producer organization’s warehouse in 2012.

He has also had to pay $830,000 in fees to the maple syrup association.

In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court said he must pay a fine equal to the value of the stolen syrup, not just equal to the $1million profit he made from it that was the fine imposed by Quebec’s Court of Appeal.

He has 10 years to pay the fine.

Vallières was found guilty in 2016 of fraud, trafficking and theft of 9,500 barrels of syrup between 2011 and 2012 from a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Que.

The stolen syrup was worth more than $18 million, but Vallières said during his trial that he had sold it for $10 million and made a $1-million profit.

"Distinguishing between an offender's income and expenses in order to determine the offender's profit margin would essentially amount to legitimating criminal activity," the Supreme Court ruling said.

Chinese hog farmers losing money

China’s hog farmers are losing a lot of money because expansion after African Swine Fever has been overdone, because feed costs are soaring and because a wave of COVID-19 has closed restaurants and reduced demand.

Reuters news agency reports losses are about $75 per hog, a sharp reversal from profits of $157 a year ago.

Farmers are trying to trim costs by switching from corn and soybeans to cheaper feeds and some are no longer preparing hogs for market, but have them on maintenance rations.

Third case of avian flu confirmed

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed a third commercial flock became infected with highly-pathogenic avian influenza in Ontario.

The third one is in north Waterloo Region, not far from the second case in south Wellington County.

Deaths in a backyard flock in the Bruce Peninsula remain to be confirmed as avian influenza.

The disease is travelling with migrating wildfowl so the Feather Board Command Center has emphasized cleaning boots before entering poultry barns.

The CFIA has established 10-kilometre quarantine zones around the farms infected; the first was a turkey operation at Thamesford, just east of London.

The outbreaks have resulted in export bans on Canadian birds and poultry products.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Icahn targets Kroger over animal welfare

Investor Carl Icahn who backs his complaints by buying up huge chunks of company shares is targeting Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the United States, pressuring it to take animal welfare more seriously.

A few weeks ago he targeted McDonalds Corp. to stop buying pork from farms where sows are housed in gestation crates. McDonalds countered that it’s sticking to its timetable to phase them out.

 Icahn said Kroger’s activity toward “creating meaningful animal welfare policies and verification methods is… totally out of step with consumer desire and current legislation.”

Icahn also accused Kroger of “side-stepping financial obligations to workers who don’t make a fair wage.”

He also claimed that his candidates for election to the board of directors have “superior knowledge and experience related to animal welfare.” 

Kroger replied that it intends to transition to pork from farms where gestation crates are no longer used by 2025.

In Canada, the pork code of practice for hog farmers recently changed is gestation crates deadline from 2025 to 2029.

Price fixing end in another mistrial

The case the United States Department of Justice brought against poultry-industry executives has once again ended in a mistrial in a Denver, Colorado, court.

The department said it might try for a third time, but local officials are not willing to try again.

The case, which charged 10 current and former poultry company executives for allegedly conspiring to fix broiler chicken prices, also resulted in a mistrial last December when the jury failed to reach a verdict, and the DOJ's second attempt suffered the same deadlocked fate.

U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer has voiced public skepticism about head office indications it wants to try again.

“I am going to order that the head of the antitrust division come in here within the next week and look me in the eye and explain to me why the government is going to retry this case,” Brimmer said. 

“If the government thinks that the 10 defendants and their attorneys and my staff and another group of jurors should spend six weeks retrying this case after the government has failed in two attempts to convict even one defendant, then certainly Mr. Jonathan Kanter has the time to come to Denver and explain to me why the Department of Justice thinks that that is an appropriate thing to do."

The government’s case alleged the defendants conspired to rig bids and prices of broiler chickens from 2012 to 2019.

The defendants were: Pilgrim's Pride CEOs Jayson Penn and William Lovette; Claxton President Mikell Fries; Claxton Vice President Scott Brady; and Roger Austin, Rickie Blake, William Kantola, Jimmie Little, Timothy Mulrenin and Gary Roberts.

Murray Opsteen chairs chicken board

Murray Opsteen has been elected chairman of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

He takes over from Ed Benjamins who has retired as chairman, but remains a director.

Adrian Rehorst is first vice-chairman and Jordan Fois second vice-chairman.

Tim Klompmaker was recently elected chairman of Chicken Farmers of Canada.

Rick Kaptein is the board’s delegate on the national agency.

Scott Buchan is the board’s alternate representative to the Canadian Broiler Council.

Andrea Veldhuizen is the board’s representative to Farm and Food Care Ontario.

Terpstra joins pork board

Tanya Terpstra has been elected to represent Perth County hog producers on the Ontario Pork marketing board.

She takes over from Doug Ahrens.

The directors will elect an executive when they meet April 12 and 13.

Beef price-fixing in Quebec

Consommateurs Quebec has filed a class-action price-fixing lawsuit against four beef-packing companies, claiming they conspired to control supply and prices in the province.

Cargill, one of the companies named, denied any wrongdoing and said there is vigorous competition among beef packers.

The others named at JBS USA, National Beef Packing and Tyson.

They are facing similar price-fixing charges in the United States where the four control about 80 per cent of the market. The Quebec lawsuit said they control 85 per cent of the Canadian market.

The lawsuit is similar to one involving bread and supermarket chains.

Loblaws has confessed in that case which remains under investigation by the federal Competition Bureau.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

CFFO supports call to allow N from Russia

The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario is lending its support to the Ontario Agri-Business Association which is asking the federal government to waive its new tariff on nitrogen imports from Russia.

The tariff was announced May 3 as one of many measures to punish Russia for its unprovoked invasion of The Ukraine.

Fertilizer Canada said 85 to 90 per cent of the nitrogen for Eastern Canada is imported from Russia.

The CFFO and OABA want shipments that were underway before the tariff was announced to be allowed to dock in Canada and offload without application of the new tariff.

The CFFO said farmers deserve all the help they can get to produce as much as possible this year, partly in response to demand from those who normally depend on food from The Ukraine and Russia.

Feds fund poultry promotions

The federal government is providing $3.5 million to help turkey and chicken farmers increase domestic demand for their products.

Turkey Farmers of Canada will get $2.5 million and Chicken Farmers of Canada $1 million.

It’s not clear whether this is part of the compensation the government is offering for trading away some market share under the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

The funding is expected to support industry-led promotions to differentiate Canadian poultry products and producers, the government said.

Brookfield buys Nielsen

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is leading a consortium that is buying Nielsen Holdings for $16 billion US in cash.

Nielsen’s business is managing data.

One of its services is collecting grocery prices from Canadian supermarket chains, then selling the combined information back to those supermarket chains.

It enables the supermarkets to keep close and detailed track of their competitors.

CFIA investigating Kitchener-area avian flu

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating deaths of chickens at a farm north of Kitchener to determine if they are the result of an outbreak of avian influenza.

The news comes a day after the CFIA confirmed an outbreak on a turkey farm near Thamesford.

In both cases the CFIA has established lockdowns on the farms and quarantine zones.

The Feather Board Command Centre has put the industry on high alert. 

The Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board cancelled its annual meeting this week due to concerns that the virus might spread. It will be held later at a date yet to be announced.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Egg farmers delay annual meeting

The Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board is postponing its annual meeting that was to be held this week.

It has sent an urgent message to all of its members saying:

“Out of an abundance of caution as a result of suspect positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza, EFO is postponing its annual general meeting, previously scheduled for this week.  

“More information, including new meeting dates, will be shared as it becomes available.”

The egg board did not provide any further information about the virus in Ontario.

Officially, there has been only one confirmed case in the Waterloo Region that was reported last week.

The Feather Board command centre says there has been a second outbreak on a farm near Thamesford.

All poultry farmers have been told to elevate their biosecurity.

Chicken production hit 600 million kilograms

Ontario’s chicken production topped 600 million kilograms last year, attendees at the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board’s annual meeting Monday learned.

That chicken was worth more than $1.1 billion.

Sixty new barns were built and the board’s policy enabled 26 entrants to get into chicken farming.

Members placed more than 258 million chicks in their barns.

There are 1,298 registered premises in Ontario. In addition, the board’s policies allow production without quota for its special breeds, artisanal and own-use programs.

Retiring chairman Ed Benjamins said the board negotiated a new pricing formula with procesors and welcomed a new chief executive officer, Denise Hockaday.

Hockaday said the “pandemic caused havoc across the chicken sector” including on demand, labour and supply chains.

Through it all, consumers continued to get a supply of quality chicken and entering the new year, she said the industry “is resilient”.


IGA Quebec to help new ventures

IGA Quebec has announced it will offer $1 million a year to help small companies to gain access for their products to its supermarket chain.

It said the project aims to revitalize the food-processing sector in the province.

In addition to the money, it will provide experts to coach the companies.

New study outlines challenges

A new study from agricultural economists outlines key challenges facing Canadian agriculture, including climate change, an increase in trade barriers and a decline in the growth of productivity.

Al Mussell, Ted Bilyea and Douglas Hedley of the Canadian Agri-Policy Institute recommend that the federal and provincial governments undertake an overhaul of their policies to address these developments.

They caution that policies to address climate change could threaten food production. They will certainly change farming practices and “at worst can undermine existing agricultural systems."

They said the rules governing world trade are being undermined by protectionism and some countries are stockpiling commodities. They also warn that China is investing heavily in agriculture in other countries to serve its needs, perhaps at the expense of domestic requirements.

They said governments must learn to work differently in the development of agriculture policies in this climate of “predatory trade disputes” and foreign investments.

And then there’s the matter of increasing costs, especially for nitrogen fertilizer and energy.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Disease outbreaks hit Huron County pigs

Two disease outbreaks have been reported at hog farms in Huron County.

One is a finisher operation which has PorcineDeltaCorona virus PDCoV.

The other is a farrow-to-finish operation with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus.

U.S. potato ban lifted

The ban on exports of Prince Edward Island potatoes to the United States will soon be lifted, the Canadian government announced.

It could be a matter of days or a couple of weeks.

The United States will be imposing new regulations to ensure potato wart does not contaminate potatoes destined for the U.S. market.

Some P.E.I. exporters say there may be devils lurking in the details of those regulations, but are happy exports can resume.

Beef a sticking point in trade talks

British insistence that it will not take any beef from cattle treated with hormone additives has emerged as one of the main sticking points as trade negotiations opened between Canada and Britain.

Canada always insists that trade barriers be based on science and in the case of hormones approved for use by Canadian beef farmers, it says the beef is safe for human consumption.

Europeans, and now England, have said they will err on the side of caution.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Greenhouse gases from farming are rising

Greenhouse gases from farming are rising, according to a new report from the National Farmers Union.

Darrin Qualman, NFU Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action, compiled the report from a number of studies that delved into individual sources such as methane from cattle.

Qualman said nitrogen fertilizer is the reason emissions are rising and although emissions from cattle are large, they are declining as cattle numbers decline.

He also notes that long ago buffalo populated the Prairies for millions of years.

Emissions from fossil fuels account for a third of the agriculture-related total; that includes both on-farm use and the manufacture of farm machinery and fertilizers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Chicken agency holds production steady

Chicken Farmers of Canada is holding production steady at 3.5 per cent above base for the next eight-week production cycle.

Ontario will be at 4.18 per cent above base, enough to produce almost 72 million kilograms.

The production allocations are for August and three weeks of September.

Klompmaker heads chicken agency

Tim Klompmaker of Norwich has been elected chairman of Chicken Farmers of Canada, the national agency for supply management.

He was first elected to the Ontario marketing board in 2010 and has been its representative to the national agency in 2012, starting as the alternate.

Nick de Graf of Nova Scotia is the first vice-chairman and Ray Nickel of British Columbia second vice-chairman.

Luce Belanger of Quebec is the remaining member of the executive committee.

Avian influenza claims more U.S. flocks

Highly-pathogenic avian influenza has claimed a few more commercial poultry flocks in the United States.

One had 570,000 chickens in Nebraska. They were being raised for Costco’s new poultry empire there.

Three new outbreaks have occurred in South Dakota, resulting in the loss of 108,000 turkeys.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is reporting new HPAI outbreaks daily, including a recent confirmation of HPAI spread in Cape Cod.


The H5 strain was detected in two Canadian geese, and local agencies are outlining mitigation measures aimed at containing additional HPAI spread.

 A red-tailed hawk was infected and found in the Waterloo Region this week.

Over the past six weeks, the U.S. has reported more than 13.3 million commercial birds lost in 50 outbreaks in 17 states.

Twenty-seven of these outbreaks involved commercial poultry.

China still refusing pork from some plants

China is still refusing to accept pork from some Canadian packing plants, Rene Roy, first vice-president of the Canadian Pork Council said in answer to a question Mike Petrovic of Wellington County posed during the Ontario Pork annual meeting Wednesday.

He said China refuses pork from plants where “a certain percentage” of workers have contracted COVID-19.

He did not name the plants, but he did indicate that some plants that were off the list are now back and shipping to China.

Conestoga Meat Packers at Breslau was one of the plants temporarily off the list of Chinese-approved plants. It is not clear whether it is now back on.

Roy also answered Petrovic’s question about zoning, saying the United States, Singapore and Viet Nam have approved Canadian Food Inspection Agency plans to establish trading bans on pork in case of an outbreak of a foreign animal disease such as African Swine Fever.

The CFIA and Canadian government are negotiating with Japan and several other nations that buy Canadian pork, he said.

Canada would be divided east and west in Northern Ontario with only one part of the country facing an export ban should there be an outbreak in the other part of Canada.

Roy also outlined progress in establishing the African Swine Fever Management Board and plans to keep the disease out of Canada or to contain it if it does break out here.

Ken Ovington, operations manager for Ontario Pork, said work will commence this summer to help farmers to develop emergency response plans for ASF. He said the goal is to have a third of Ontario’s hog farms onboard by the end of the year.

He said Ontario is developing plans for disposal of hogs if a herd needs to be euthanized. The board is going to buy equipment and conduct simulations of an ASF outbreak.

Roy said at the national level, one of the upcoming steps is to incorporate abattoirs in emergency response plans.

Roy said the animal welfare code for hog farmers will be amended to delay the ban on sow farrowing crates from 2025 to 2029.

“We still have some steps to go through” to get that change officially adopted, he said.

He said a nation-wide shortage of labour “has hurt us as an industry” at both the farm and meat-packing links in the supply chain.

The Canadian Pork Council is lobbying to reduce paperwork and time delays in importing temporary foreign workers. For example, he said that for returning workers, it should not be necessary to continue to file as much paperwork as for a new worker.

In the longer term, the council is going to join other industry groups who have similar requirements for more workers. For example, he said meat packers have a limit of 10 per cent of their workforce, yet even filling that with temporary foreign workers leaves them with too many vacancies.

He said the council is watching Ontario closely as it works on establishing a benchmark for carbon emissions. The aim is to demonstrate that hog farmers are reducing carbon emissions and therefore should be allocated credits.

Ontario Pork ended the year in strong financial position. One major expense was $1.5 million for a swine research center at the Elora Research Station and another $1.5 million will be paid this year.

The board is asking governments to match the percentage they offered beef farmers when they contributed to a new beef research center at Elora.

Rein Minnema once again drew attention to the lack of hog-packing capacity and urged the pork board to support anyone who intends to build or increase capacity.

Board chairman John DeBruyn said Conestoga Meat Packers intends to expand, but is not yet ready to announce its plans.

He said the pork board is eager to work with anyone who will increase hog-slaughtering capacity.

Olymel cancelled some Ontario contracts when it closed one plant and re-purposed another in Quebec and reduced some other contracts, he said in answer to a question.

He said some of the hogs that were under contract have since been contracted to plants in Western Canada and the United States.

Milk truckers file appeal

The Ontario Milk Transport Association has filed an appeal against the Dairy Farmers of Ontario milk marketing board.

The date is Sept. 6, set by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

While no information is provided on the tribunal website, it's likely the dispute is over remuneration.

Hawk near Waterloo carried avian influenza

A red-tailed hawk found west of Waterloo has been confirmed infected with highly-pathogenic avian influenza.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency passed the information on to the Feather Board Command Center which alerted its members.

They include the egg, chicken, turkey and hatching egg marketing boards and related service providers.

The Feather Board Command Center is urging its members to take extra biosecurity measures.

It warns that bird poop could be infected and carried into barns on boots. 

And it cautions farmers and their employees about any contact with wild birds, including feeding and hunting.

If birds show signs of illness, it urges its members to immediately contact their veterinarian.

Waterloo next on list for internet

Ninety homes, farms and rural businesses in the Waterloo Region are next on the list for high-speed internet service.

The $874,000 contract to expand broadband services was awarded by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc, a not-for-profit corporation, initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario.

SWIFT expects the project to be finished by June.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Maple Leaf’s Listeria tragedy is remembered

Rather than trying to forget and move on, Maple Leaf Foods Inc. annually holds a memorial for all 13,000 employees to mark the death of 33 Canadians who were poisoned by Listeria monocytogenes in Maple Leaf’s lunchables products.

It was the worst case of food poisoning in Canadian history and disproportionately impacted youngsters who packed lunchables for school.

Dr. Randall Huffman came to Maple Leaf Foods as head of its food safety programs after that tragedy.

In an interview with Meatingplace Magazine, he said:

“Our food safety culture is definitely stronger and it comes from the top of the organization.” Michael McCain is president and chief executive officer and he leads the annual commemoration every August.

“We have a moment of silence across the business,” Huffman said. “We try to engage all 13,000 employees.

"It’s actually a week-long event where we host commemoration activities.

“We think about what happened 14 years ago, but we also talk about what we’re doing today to enhance food safety programs.

“Food safety is in the forefont of every plant manager’s mind, nearly every day, every week.

“Everybody thinks about it because we don’t let it go. It’s like it happened yesterday,” Huffman said.

Monday, March 21, 2022

JBS offers housing loans

JBS Canada is offering $10,000 to employees for a downpayment or renovations to improve their housing.

They have two years during which no interest will be charged. They can pay back the loan through payroll deductions.

The plant employs about 3,000 workers.

JBS bought the plant from XL Packers when it was in severe financial difficulty after its beef was contaminated with E. Coli 0157:H7.

Wheat breeding returns $33 per dollar invested

A new study out of Western Canada claims the return on wheat breeding is $33 for every dollar invested.

The authors said they considered only the impact on yield, not other factors such as insect and disease control achieved via other methods such as pesticides and the benefits from adopting improved management practices.

Farmers support wheat breeding via checkoffs.

The organizations involved are members of the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC). They are the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, Alberta Wheat Commission, and Manitoba Crop Alliance, along with the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), and the Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission (SWCDC).

“This study clearly indicates that farmer investment in public breeding programs is working and is providing substantive returns to farmers,” said Fred Greig, chairman of the CWRC and Manitoba Crop Alliance representative.

“Our measure is conservative because we don’t include many other potential benefits. It does provide a very defendable estimate because we can measure it accurately,” said Gray. 

“Wheat yields are something that everybody sees. They understand that the new varieties are better than the older varieties, yielding better, and improved yields are the key trait that delivers value back to the producer.”

Grain Farmers of Ontario contributes to wheat breeding programs here.

CP Rial stoppage threatens farmers

The impasse between management and about 3,000 employees that has idled CP Rail is threatening farmers.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattle Feeders Association issued a joint release to say feedlots are depending on feed coming train by train.

It could results in an animal care emergency said Bob Lowe, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

Drought reduced the Prairie harvest and feedlots with more than a million cattle in Alberta and Saskatchewan are depending on feed coming north from the United States.

There aren’t enough trucks to handle what should be coming by rail, the two organizations said.

In the U.S., farmers are worried that they won’t be able to get fertilizer from Canada in time for spring planting. Nutrien, the world’s largest potash producer, said it has delivered potash to U.S. retail stores, but only enough for four to five days of CP Rail stoppage.

Karen King, chief executive officer and president of Fertilizer Canada, said the U.S. has only enough fertilizer on hand for a few days.

Perrin Beatty, chief executive officer for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is urging the federal government to prepare back-to-work legislation to ensure the work stoppage is brief.

Coincidentally, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Agri-Business Association held a news conference Friday to say it’s important that everything works smoothly this season so farmers can maximize production.

They were commenting in the context of global trade disruptions and food shortages related to the war in the Ukraine.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Avian flu hits Nova Scotia again

Another backyard flock in Nova Scotia has been infected with avian influenza.

It is the second outbreak in Nova Scotia and the third in Canada this year. Newfoundland had an outbreak at an exhibition flock.

The first Nova Scotia outbreak was in the western part of the province and was a commercial flock. This outbreak is in southern Nova Scotia.

Nutrien boosting potash production

Nutrien is increasing potash production by one million tonnes to 15 million because war in Ukraine is reducing supplies.

Nutrien has six mines in Saskatchewan capable of producing up to 20 million tonnes per year.

“This is the most potash we have ever produced, an increase of nearly 20 per cent” from its output in 2020, the company said on Twitter.

The majority of that additional volume is expected to be produced in the second half of the year, the company said in a release.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Hatching egg appeal hearings completed

Public hearings into a challenge the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors filed against the Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission wound up Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule.

The weeks-long public hearings featured mind-numbing detailed testimony and cross-examinations of the hatching egg commission’s cost of production formula.

It wound up with agricultural economist John Groenewegen on the stand, testifying that the hatching egg commission’s formula closely copies one that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission imposed on the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

If the chicken-processing companies win their appeal, it would not only force the hatching egg commission to reduce its prices, but might undermine the chicken board’s formula.

The chicken board uses its formula as the basis for negotiating prices with the chicken processors.

The hatching egg commission has the authority to set prices and doesn’t need to negotiate with processors, but in practice has listened to their concerns.

It did amend its formula and slightly reduced prices, but the processors eventually decided to file an appeal to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

The public hearings were held via ZOOM internet service.

Cargill, Maple Leaf Foods win welfare plaudits

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and Cargill are two companies doing business in Canada that have been recognized for improving animal welfare.

Two animal rights organizations formed the Business Benchmark for on Farm Animal Welfare to measure corporate practices.  

Only four were judged good enough to win “leadership” designation; 12, including Maple Leaf and Cargill, have made “animal welfare an integral part of business strategy”.

The two animal rights groups are Compassion for World Farming and Four PAWS.

In the Benchmark report they write:

“We want to end factory farming and change the food system in a sustainable way through three important strategic interventions.

“First, we want to see a significant reduction in the number of animals farmed for food – aiming for at least a 50 per cent reduction by 2040 globally. 

Second, we want to make sure that animals who (sic) are still farmed for food experience positive welfare states. 

Third, we strive to replace animal-based products with plant-based alternatives. 

The four leading companies picked by Benchmark are all in England. They are Marks and Spencer, Noble Foods, Premier Foods and Waitrose.

You have to wonder why Maple Leaf Foods boasts about recognition by critics who aim to reduce animal agriculture by 50 per cent.

U.S. chicken giants counter critics

The National Chicken Council in the United States is fighting negative publicity by releasing results of a recent survey of chicken producers indicating they are profitable.

Critics, such as the film Super Size Me II, have portrayed chicken producers as victims of processors who pressure them into debt that leaves them struggling as serfs.

The council said its new survey incorporates United States Department of Agriculture data and a survey of companies responsible for 83 per cent of U.S. chicken.

It said the report found that:


The $68,455 median income for chicken farmers was significantly higher than all farm households and all U.S. households. Sixty percent of chicken farmers earned household incomes that exceeded the U.S. median.


The top 20 per cent of contract chicken farmers earn on average $142,000, exceeding the top 20 per cent of all farm households ($118,000) and all U.S. households ($101,000).


On broiler farm loan performance data show significantly lower charge off and deficiency percentages for chicken farmers compared to all agricultural loans.


The health and well-being of chickens has greatly benefited from the contract farming structure. In 2021, the average on-farm livability of a flock of U.S. broiler chickens was almost 95 per cent. In 1925, it was 82 per cent.


Companies reported significant waiting lists for those who would like to enter live chicken production or expand existing operations. There were 1,672 applications from potential producers and 335 expansion requests from existing farmers.


“The chicken industry should be looked at as a model, and not a target of unwanted and unnecessary regulations that are being discussed in the (U.S. President Joe) Biden administration,” NCC president Mike Brown said.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has often shown its members video interviews with disgruntled U.S. contract growers, showing that supply management here yields better conditions and profits for chicken farmers.

Frankly, I don't put much faith in a survey conducted by the price-fixing chicken oligarchs.

Iowa's ag gag law stricken by judge

Iowa’s ag gag law stricken by judge


Iowa’s second law seeking to criminalize unauthorized surveillance by the likes of animal activists on agricultural properties has been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge Stephanie Rose.

She said the legislation repeats intentions that led other judges to rule laws restricting animal rights activists are a violation of free speech guaranteed by the United States constitution.

Rose rejected the state’s contention that while some legislators expressed a need to muzzle animal activists and critics, the law’s intent was to address a larger need to protect private property and biosecurity.

“To be sure, some of the investigations may violate other laws,” the judge wrote. “However, the State of Iowa may not single out individuals for special punishment based on their critical viewpoint of agricultural practices … . It is the proper province of the legislature to determine whether specific facilities — such as agricultural facilities, nuclear power plants, military bases, or other sensitive buildings — are entitled to special legal protections. 

“However, the First Amendment does not allow those protections to be based on a violator’s viewpoint.”

Last year Ontario passed a law seeking to protect farmers from animal-fights trespassers.